We all know that getting up early is an absolute pain, but it could be taking a very serious toll on our teens.
This certainly seems to be the case, according to new research carried out by a team at the University of Rochester.
The team – led by Dr Jack Pelz – discovered that starting school earlier than 8:30am can have an extremely negative impact on the health of a teenager, causing sleep deprivation and depression.
As we know, this sleep deprivation can be a gateway to even more problems, including obesity and poor school performance.
For the research, the team analysed data from just under 200 teens, aged 14 to 17. The teens, along with their parents, were then asked to share details of their sleeping habits and their daily routine – including the time at which they started school each day.
The teens were divided into two groups – those who began school before and after 8:30am – and then kept diaries documenting sleep habits as well as their experience of depression and/or anxiety.
When the team analysed the results, a very clear pattern emerged: those teens who started school after 8:30am showed reduced signs of depression and anxiety.
Dr Pelz explained why getting enough sleep – a recommended eight to 10 hours – is so important for young people’s health.
“Earlier school start times seem to put more pressure on the sleep process and increase mental health symptoms, while later school start times appear to be a strong protective factor for teens,” he wrote.
“Better sleep hygiene combined with later school start times would yield better start outcomes.”
While it may sound like common sense, we’re glad to see this being proven scientifically.
We all know how important a good, healthy sleep routine is for our growing children; and while school is important too, we need to make sure we’re getting our priorities right.